Deputies were justified in killing a Bedford County man on Oct. 28, Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Doucette said in a news release Monday.
He declined to pursue charges against three deputies who responded to a call for help from the man’s estranged wife as investigators said he attacked her with a knife, and later threatened her with an ax.
Doucette was appointed special prosecutor for a state police investigation into the actions of Bedford County Deputy Timothy Shull, Investigator Robert Arney, and Investigator Christian Edmondson at a home on Teass Terrace.
He said the Bedford County deputies shot Richard Bergeron as he rushed toward them with a raised ax. One of their bullets struck Bergeron’s estranged wife Doris Bergeron in the foot, in what he called an apparent accident.
Interviewed by law enforcement officers on Oct. 29 at Lynchburg General Hospital, Doris Bergeron said she believed if the deputies hadn’t shown up, she would be dead.
A state police investigation found Richard Bergeron had a history of violence against his estranged wife. The couple was in the process of a divorce.
On that day, as outlined in the news release, Doris Bergeron’s ordeal began just before 4 p.m., when Richard arrived at the house unannounced.
When she refused to let him in, he began to kick down the back door. Doris Bergeron ran out the front door to call 911. She only had time to scream for police.
Richard Bergeron grabbed her hair and kicked her, yanking her inside. In the kitchen, he pulled a knife out of a drawer and stabbed her in the back. He dragged her outside and threw her to the ground before pulling the knife out of her body. He threatened to kill her and then himself, according to the release.
Doris Bergeron fought back as Richard doused her in gasoline and tried, but failed, to light her on fire. He hit her on the head and dragged her to a chopping block in the backyard. There, he picked up an ax and dragged her toward the horse barn.
She yelled for the deputies when she heard them arrive. Behind the house, they found Richard Bergeron with one arm crooked around his wife’s neck and the other holding the ax.
She said they told him to drop it, but instead he dropped her and charged forward, the release said. The deputies fired several rounds.
The deputies preformed CPR on Richard Bergeron but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Doucette found the deputies had reason to believe Bergeron had maliciously wounded his wife and he “posed an immediate threat” to her life.
“He also posed an immediate, fatal threat to the officers and was actively resisting arrest as he charged the officers with the upraised ax,” Doucette said in the news release, calling the deputies actions justified.
“In fact, in my opinion, they should be commended for the quick and decisive action they took, which saved the life of Doris Bergeron.”